smiling child playing on playground

Our children can be exposed to chemicals that harm the brain and nervous system where they live, play and learn. 

The health effects of these neurotoxic chemicals are so widespread that many doctors and scientists refer to this as a “silent epidemic.”

baby sitting in car seat

Even at low levels, neurotoxic chemicals can have lifelong health consequences when encountered during the first 1,000 days of development—in utero to age two.

Low-income communities are at even greater risk of exposure. The burden of toxic chemicals adds to other health and psychosocial disadvantages these vulnerable populations face.

young girl drawing in classroom

While toxic chemicals are not the sole cause for lifelong learning and developmental deficits, they are among the most preventable.

It is within our reach to protect the capacity for learning and the growth potential for millions of children and reduce both community and individual expenditures on special education, social services and specialized health care. 

Estimates of these soaring costs include:

$130 Billion per year

Special education for the estimated 20 million children struggling with a developmental brain disorder.

$4,100—$6,200 per year

The average additional medical expenditures for individuals with an autism spectrum disorder.

$282 Billion

The estimated combined annual cost of medical expenses and lost productivity from exposure to toxic flame retardants, pesticides and other chemicals. 

In July 2016 the science journal Environmental Health Perspectives published a groundbreaking consensus statement signed by 47 leading scientists, health care professionals and children’s environmental health advocates and endorsed by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Endocrine Society, among others. The Project TENDR statement, which stands for Targeting Environmental Neuro-Developmental Risks, ends with this sentence:

We are confident that reducing exposures to chemicals that can interfere with healthy brain development will help to lower the prevalence of neurodevelopmental disabilities, and thus enable many more children to reach their full potential.

Toxic Chemicals that Harm the Brain

A Silent Epidemic

The damage to children’s potential for learning and thriving rarely makes itself known through a fever or swelling or sudden pain. Instead, beginning in the womb, exposure to lead and other chemicals quietly interferes with the delicate, complicated and miraculous process of wiring a baby’s brain.

A baby in its mother’s womb generates a quarter of a million brain cells every minute to build its brain and nervous system. Tiny amounts of toxic chemicals like lead can get in the way of healthy brain building and cause lasting harm. If we prevent the exposures, we can prevent the harm. That’s what Healthy Babies Bright Futures is all about.